Crime

Terminally ill Cayucos man seeks dismissal of gun threat charges

John Arthur Black, 72, of Cayucos was arrested Oct. 3 after being accused of threatening to shoot construction workers realigning a fence next to his property. His attorney filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss charges against him, claiming Black only has months to live.
John Arthur Black, 72, of Cayucos was arrested Oct. 3 after being accused of threatening to shoot construction workers realigning a fence next to his property. His attorney filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss charges against him, claiming Black only has months to live.

The attorney for an elderly Cayucos man who is accused of threatening to shoot construction workers operating next to his home has filed a motion to have the resulting criminal charges dismissed, arguing that his client only has three months to live.

John Arthur Black, 71, is facing three felony counts of threatening to commit violence and a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a deadly weapon following his arrest in October.

A motion to have the case dismissed, filed Tuesday, claims Black has “widespread metastatic kidney cancer involving his left hip, cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine as well as his lungs.” In an accompanying letter, his physician wrote that Black’s prognosis is “measured in months” and that he’s too frail to regularly attend court.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said deputies were called to a home on the 700 block of Lucerne Road in Cayucos on the morning of Oct. 3. Construction workers at a house next door to Black said he approached them regarding a dispute over a fence line.

In an investigative report of the incident, Deputy David Haydock wrote that workers told him they were realigning a fence line when Black came over and said, “This will be your last day if you mess with me,” and unzipped his jacket to reveal a handgun in his waistband.

I have two months to live and this can be your last day.

Statement allegedly made by John Arthur Black, as told to a sheriff’s deputy from an alleged threat victim

Another worker told the deputy that Black said, “See what I have? I can kill all of you (expletive). I have two months to live and this can be your last day.” Black allegedly made a statement about having an “arsenal” inside his home and then left.

The deputy wrote that the workers had been at the house for about two years, and, in that time, there had been several disputes between them and Black, many times resulting in noise complaints made by Black. In those two years, there had been 13 calls for service from the two houses, the deputy wrote.

Haydock wrote that he interviewed Black, who told the deputy about his terminal illness but denied making threats. Black said there had been an ongoing dispute with his neighbor for about nine years and that a lawsuit had been filed. Black reportedly told the deputy, “I can take one out or all of them for the same price.”

“I believed that he was saying that he could kill one of them or all of them and it would be the same punishment,” Haydock wrote.

Let the man die in peace.

Ilan Funke-Bilu, John Arthur Black’s attorney

Black was not cooperative with Haydock, the report states, and was booked into County Jail on suspicion of making threatening statements.

Black has not yet entered a plea, according to court records. In his motion to dismiss the charges, Black’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, wrote that Black had relinquished possession of a .38-caliber handgun registered to him and consents to officials searching his home to ensure he has no other weapons there.

“Defending the charges and assisting his counsel in his defense can only exacerbate (his) condition,” the motion reads. “The risk to the public and/or alleged victims is negligible.”

Funke-Bilu said his client maintains his innocence and is willing to fight the case — even if it kills him.

The pending criminal case will not be allowed to interfere with Mr. Black’s treatment, and we wish the best for him in that regard.

Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham

“You have a man charged with, granted, a serious crime, but he’s dying. He’s not a threat to anyone,” the attorney said. “Let the man die in peace.”

The county District Attorney’s Office has not yet filed a response in court.

On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham declined to say whether his office planned to oppose the defense’s effort to dismiss the charges, but he called Funke-Bilu’s filing “a very novel motion.”

“The pending criminal case will not be allowed to interfere with Mr. Black’s treatment, and we wish the best for him in that regard,” Cunningham wrote in an email.

Black is due in court Feb. 8.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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